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Ivan Kupala Day is celebrated in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia currently on the night of 6/7 July in the Gregorian or New Style calendar, which is 23/24 June in the Julian or Old Style calendar still used by many Orthodox Churches.
On Kupala day, young people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith. The failure of a couple in love to complete the jump while holding hands is a sign of their destined separation
Girls may float wreaths of flowers (often lit with candles) on rivers, and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath.
There is an ancient Kupala belief that the eve of Ivan Kupala is the only time of the year when ferns bloom. Prosperity, luck, discernment and power would befall on whoever finds a fern flower. It is to be noted, however, that biologists have held the persistent scientific fact that ferns have never and will never bloom.
The Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian name of this holiday combines "Ivan" (John — the Baptist) and Kupala which is related to a word derived from the Slavic word for bathing, which is cognate. However, the tradition of Kupala predates Christianity.
Due to the popularity of the pagan celebration, with time it was simply accepted and reestablished as one of the native Christian traditions intertwined with local folklore.
The holiday is still enthusiastically celebrated by the younger people of Eastern Europe. The night preceding the holiday (Tvorila night) is considered the night for "good humour" mischiefs.On Ivan Kupala day itself, children engage in water fights and perform pranks, mostly involving pouring water over someone.
In 2012, the most large-scale and colorful Kupala celebrations are expected on the island of Khortytsya, near Zaporozhye (June 23 – 24, 2012), and in Kiev: in the Pirogovo Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life and the Mamaeva Sloboda Cossack village (July 6 – 7, 2012).
If you have not celebrated it, you haven’t seen Ukraine, and you have not discovered the pagan inside you.